Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Document Box with Illustrated Books

Meiji period (1868–1912)
19th century
Lacquered wood with gold and silver hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e on nashiji ground
H. 6 in. (15.2 cm); W. 16 3/8 in. (41.6 cm); D. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
Accession Number:
14.40.837a, b
Not on view
This large box for calligraphy paper (ryōshi-bako) forms a set with the writing box of the same design. Writing boxes and document boxes were often prepared in pairs; sometimes a writing table completed the set. The open book on the front of the lid reveals a scene from “The Gatehouse,” chapter 16 of The Tale of Genji, with a procession of court carriages and elegant courtiers on their way to Ishiyama. On the right side of the box is a scene from Ise Stories, while the inside is decorated with bamboo and chrysanthemums, representing endurance and longevity, respectively.
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